Van Gogh at The Clark
Speaking of virtuosos, their personalities, and the sun, the renovated Clark Art Institute in Williamstown has Van Gogh and Nature. A sun-starved soul, Vincent Van Gogh soaked up the natural world and studied the shapes and movements of the humbler human beings who spend their time in close contact with nature, if not in aesthetic assessment of it.
Van Gogh needed nature, seemed to worship nature, and finally surrendered his life to what felt to him like the overwhelming power of nature.
Arranged chronologically, the exhibition opens with some of his early paintings, dark studies around his childhood home. Several of these feature a single female form, still or floating along a path. As his life goes on, and his settings change, the paintings become brighter and more colorful. Gradually the lines turn liquid, and the movement of the reaper, graceful and strong, appears in place of the still, dark “mother”.
In the last years the nature that Van Gogh served, swallowed him up. The fields turned to waves. The earth and the sky turned to a rolling, unmanageable ocean. In 1890, before he shot himself in the chest, Van Gogh wrote a letter telling that he felt powerless in the face of such nature.